Embracing Opportunity in 2022, with Rhonda Carges, Adena Miller and Lisa Doerner

Episode 262

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Rhonda Carges is VP Operations & Senior Consultant at Break the Ice Media. Rhonda brings more than 25 years of sales, new business development, and travel trade experience to the table. This translates into great partnership strategies and creative thinking for our clients. Rhonda is a master at creating relationships, and her deep understanding of the industry helps her create win-win opportunities for her clients. Rhonda and her team often act as a much-needed sales and marketing arm for Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs), providing travel trade marketing, program management, partnership development, tracking, and reporting to the mix. She’s a forward-thinker who always knows where the market is headed – and how best to capitalize on those trends in the moment.

Adena Miller is a Consultant for Break the Ice Media. Adena brings the art of storytelling to her role as Consultant at Break the Ice Media. As a young child, her parents’ art gallery often set the scene for her creative writing, and she later went on to develop her craft as a college newspaper reporter. Weber Shandwick Chicago allowed her to hone her public relations skills across several national food and beverage accounts, and she has the windy city to thank for being transformed into a self-proclaimed foodie. A grant recipient to pursue a travel, food, and wine writing seminar in Saint-Émilion, France, further ignited her passion for wine and travel. She brings more than 15 years of public relations expertise to Break the Ice Media, where she develops media, blog, newsletter, and social content and executes event planning.

Lisa Doerner is a Senior Consultant for Break the Ice Media and the Executive Director of Travel Alliance Partners. Lisa’s background is in marketing and operations, but her path into the travel and tourism industry is an unusual one. She started her career working for a large corporation in product marketing and then working as the Executive Director for a technology association. These roles set the groundwork for her current position as Executive Director for Travel Alliance Partners (TAP), a corporation focused on connecting tour operators, travel buyers, and suppliers.

Lisa leads the TAP management team in developing operational and marketing strategies to help Travel Alliance Partners strengthen their partnerships, increase their businesses and expand their company tour portfolios. The past couple of years have found Lisa and her team reimagining how they can deliver a quality travel industry conference and marketing initiatives to TAP’s audiences despite the challenges facing the travel industry.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I have a slightly different show format for you. I have been reflecting on how much the travel and tourism industry has been through in the last two years. Different destinations and industry segments have had markedly different challenges; for some, 2021 was a banner year, but for others, 2021 was another year of struggle and record low numbers. The changing state of the pandemic is felt quickly in our industry, and 2021 has seen unprecedented highs and lows. I decided to invite three team members from Break the Ice Media onto the show to share their perspectives and experiences as we enter into the subsequent recovery phase. I’m so excited to be joined on the show by Adena Miller, Lisa Doerner and Rhonda Carges as we ponder what the future holds and the lessons learned that can be taken forward to serve and support the travel and tourism industry.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How the tour and travel segment have kept up their forward momentum, even with so many obstacles in their path
  • Rhonda shares her perspective as a supplier on how to be a good partner our tour operator partners
  • How Adena has seen travel buyers, advisors and agents respond during this challenging time
  • Where we should focus in 2022, as the travel and tourism segment continues to recover from the point of suppliers, travel buyers, and tour operators
  • How to tap into your local tourism office or destination marketing organization for support and collaboration
  • The importance of leveraging technology to streamline processes and make travelers’ experiences stress-free
  • Ways the Break the Ice team are working to help with recovery and the projects that Rhonda, Adena, and Lisa are involved in to support the travel and tourism industry
  • What the Bookable Product Program offers to clients and how it can help with recovery

Lessons Learned in 2021

On speaking to the team, both during this discussion and more widely over the past few months, the importance of staying connected with people has been highlighted again and again. Talking with Adena Miller, a Consultant for Break the Ice Media, reminded me why it is essential to foster a deeper connection, even when we can’t meet in person by sharing pictures or stories.

Within the Break the Ice Media team and with our clients and partners, we found that the willingness to be open, vulnerable, and honest made a huge difference in staying positive and looking to the future.

In 2021 we saw some amazing and successful out-of-the-box thinking; Rhonda Carges, VP Operations & Senior Consultant at Break the Ice Media, joined me on the podcast this week to share her experience of embracing new ideas over the last few months. We discuss how travel and tour operators pivoted to provide online events and conferences that allowed people to ‘meet’ and make connections in a new way. The past two years’ uncertainty and adversity have embedded the mindset of growing when times are tough and seeing opportunity in difficulty.

Moving Forward in 2022

Lisa Doerner, a Senior Consultant at Break the Ice Media and the Executive Director of Travel Alliance Partners, also joined me this week on the show. We really dug into the role of a leader in the travel sector and why all of us have learned and developed more than we ever imagined possible. Lisa describes how one of the things that stood out to her was that negativity and discouragement could spread across an organization quickly and why the leadership must stay positive, despite uncertainty about the future.

Our industry is resilient, and people will continue to travel, but going forward, we will have to embrace change with open arms to be successful. Rhonda describes why suppliers need to be flexible and communicative and look for opportunities to collaborate as we move into recovery in 2022. It’s all about thinking about how we can work together; rather than working in silos, seek out the competition because your neighbor can end up being your biggest asset.

People are so ready to get back out there in 2022, and wherever we fit in the travel and tourism industry we can be a continued source of inspiration for our clients and get creative with the types of trips and experiences that travelers are craving.


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